Carson Pass

Carson Pass, a sensational drive in the Sierra Nevada

Carson Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.613m (8,574ft) above the sea level, located on the central Sierra Nevada, in eastern California, USA.

Is Carson Pass open?

The road to the summit, located within the El Dorado National Forest, is asphalted. It’s called California State Route 88, also known as Carson Pass Highway. Winter road closure is rare. The road is kept open all winter but can be subject to restrictions or short-term closure due to snow (including avalanches) or ice. It’s the fourth highest auto pass in the Sierra Nevada. Expect some steep sections. When the road does close temporarily, it is usually because of avalanche danger. It has two areas that are particularly vulnerable to avalanches - the Carson Spur area between Silver Lake and Kirkwood and the eastern side of Carson Pass. Between the two, there are 22 different avalanche chutes that could send snow tumbling onto the roadway.

How long is Carson Pass?

The pass is 22.53km (14.0 miles) long and links  the villages of Sorensens and Kirkwood. The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities here. Don’t forget your camera! The drive across Carson Pass is filled with scenic views, alpine lakes, and countless places to pull off the highway and explore. You will witness views of ragged volcanic skylines, cool green meadows, mountain lakes framed by timber-covered slopes, adventure-filled rock valleys, and distant mountain peaks.


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NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.